The New Communist Man
In the pursuit of a communist society, many Marxist-Leninist authors have written about the new kind of person that will create this society. This new kind of human being will be in stark contrast to the kind of person that existed under a capitalist system. Once these capitalist chains are removed, mankind will soar to new heights. Leon Trotsky boasted of this new man:
Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman. (Literature and Revolution. 1924)
Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary, expressed this idea very succinctly, "To build communism it is necessary, simultaneous with the new material foundations, to build the new man and woman" (Socialism and Man in Cuba. 1965). This vision is sometimes referred to as the "New Communist Man". This new man is usually described as being of great virtue, work ethic, and comradery. This kind of man is a higher, and more full version of the man that is oppressed under Feudalism and Capitalism.
The process by which this Homo Communist will come about is expressed by Trotsky as a sort of evolutionary process, whereby one engages in a process of mastery over one's self to become a higher form of being than that which existed before. After this process of mastery is complete, the communist supermen will have truly emerged. Trotsky says in the closing of "Literature and Revolution" that, "The forms of life will become dynamically dramatic. The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise."
The results promised by Trotsky have yet to arrive in Socialist countries, but this does not mean the idea has been abandoned. Propaganda that existed in the Soviet Union, for example, is filled with the ideas of a different kind of person for a different kind of society. However, an important point must be emphasized. The rhetoric around the "New Communist Man" always puts the catalyst for change inside the individual. In other words, the new man will arise from within as soon as Communism is established. However, is this really the case?
One need only to point to the truly countless abuses of human rights committed by socialist and communist countries. Control and coercion over economy, society, and life itself. Freedom is extinct. Why did they feel such a need to exercise control and violence over their citizens if the "New Comunist Man" had already arisen? This is because the whole notion is ridiculous. No argument or reason was ever given as to why man should suddenly be radically transformed under Communism. It was simply assumed to be true by the Marxists. This is because there simply is no reason. No communist man arose to fill the new communist society, so the mold of the new man was imposed from above. There was a new society, and man was forced into it.
The need for a new man is not a concern faced by societies based on individual liberty and private property rights, however. Liberty does not require that man be or do anything in order for society to function. The societal order is created by the people that live within it, based on their own values and principles. A bottom-up creation allows for individuals to flourish, as there is no coercion forcing man to act or behave in certain ways. Individuals come first. The society created is a conscious result of those individuals.
A socialist society operates opposite of a society based in freedom. The societal order is created from above, with the values and principles from those above, and imposed on those below. Man is to fit within this society. If he does not, he must be changed. This is the reason for impetus in the communist rhetoric. WIthout a change, their view of society cannot operate.
This is why there will never be rhetoric around a "New Capitalist Man" in the event of a shift towards a free society. Individuals have the primacy, and a new man is a concern only for those societies who do not recognize that fact. If the past experiments in socialism are any indication, those societies fail to stand the test of time. To create a societal order where man is free to flourish, it must be a result of those who live within it.
The Marxist-Leninist approach to society fails because it tries to create man. He must be changed in order to create this new society. In order to create a new world, the pieces must be reconstructed. The fact that man can and should be changed is simply taken for granted. Trotsky and Guevara never asked if the "New Communist Man" could be created. They assumed that as soon as man was freed from his Capitalist chains, this evolution would occur automatically. If that was truly the case, why were the genocides commited by socialist regimes necessary? Why is force necessary at all if this is really true? Force imposes the societal order, and force attempts to change man to fit inside of it.
In a twisted way, there is some truth to the concept of the "New Communist Man". This new man is one who is subjugated. He is forced into submission by those above him who would seek to transform society. In a word, unfree. The "New Capitalist Man" on the other hand, has his will subject to none but himself. While he may not turn into a Aristotle, Gothe, or Marx, he is free to choose not to.